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SmackDown recap & reactions (Feb. 17, 2023): Sami Zayn comes home

Sami Zayn in Montreal.

That’s damn near all that needs to be said about this week’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown.

The reception this man received from the hometown crowd was something truly special. We’ve seen this kind of thing many times before, sure, but the story that goes along with this makes it that much better.

My man was in there getting emotional while laughing at the sheer absurdity that he has done enough in his career to mean this much to all the people who paid money to go to the Bell Centre to show it to him. He let the moment breathe, just the way he should have, and I’ll be damned if that alone wasn’t enough to make me as excited as I can ever remember being for a PPV that wasn’t Royal Rumble or WrestleMania.

When he finally spoke, he didn’t say much. He didn’t really need to.

“Roman, you are going down!”

I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted someone to win a match more than I want Sami Zayn to win this match.

This segment was masterfully done too. Really great just to allow us to feel the atmosphere and know how much harder it’s going to hit when it comes time for the match itself.

Let’s hope Peacock doesn’t censor the crowd this time either.

I might be easy to please these days, but I actually liked Hit Row hopping the ring without an entrance and running down Montreal and everyone in the crowd. If they’re going to continue getting TV time, this is probably the best way to use it.

It’s as entertaining as they’ve been since they arrived.

Naturally, they were used to get Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy over, as the two of them, now together and doing swell thanks to Wyatt accepting his nature, put the boots to Top Dolla and Ashante Adonis.

Then we got an interesting promo from Wyatt making clear that whoever wins in the Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley match at Elimination Chamber “should run.” That would seem to indicate to me they want to do a Lesnar vs. Wyatt match at WrestleMania, and I am utterly fascinated at the idea of a feud between those two.

In fact, I’m downright giddy at the thought of how WWE would tell a story like that.

All the rest

  • Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler kicked off this show doing their tag team thing against Shotzi & Natalya. Remember when Rousey explained she didn’t do a great job selling Shotzi’s apron DDT at Survivor Series because she was so concerned with making it safe for Shotzi? She got comfy enough to do it proper here and deserves credit for just how brutal she made it look. In the end, she tapped Shotzi with an armbar after Baszler intercepted Nattie. It’s clear WWE wants to push these two, and I can’t imagine it will be long before they get a title shot.
  • Drew McIntyre & Sheamus defeated The Viking Raiders in a banger of a match that was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. I’m not sure why I would have ever assumed it would be anything other than that, but hot damn is pro wrestling arguably at its best when big beefy dudes are just throwing their weight knocking each other around.
  • I love the idea that Karrion Kross was really strongly considering becoming a father and then he saw how Dominik Mysterio treats Rey and decided against it. I genuinely want to take him at his word on that, because it’s so much funnier that way. Having said that, I hope he keeps doing the “do something about it” line because it’s a lot more badass coming from him.
  • Asuka def. Liv Morgan in a singles match with all the Elimination Chamber participants ringside. After the match, they all hopped in the ring to do some fighting, the usual preview of the big match bit.
  • GUNTHER successfully retained his Intercontinental championship, defeating surprising challenger Madcap Moss. They very much wanted to get Moss across as at least something of a legitimate threat, and they had a decent enough match, but the crowd wasn’t having it the longer the match went and if they really wanted to better establish Moss they probably wouldn’t have put him in a position like this. He looked good, but nothing stood out to me overall.

Yet another solid show from the blue brand.

Your thoughts?

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